Flexible working- the pros and pitfalls
Flexible working comes in all shapes and sizes. From job sharing and remote working to flexi-time and compressed hours, flexible working means that employees have a say in how, when and where they work. With the opportunity to work flexibly now one of the top considerations for job-hunters (Employee Benefits), it’s no wonder that businesses are jumping on the flexi-working bandwagon in the fight to secure top talent.
Proven to increase employee performance and retention, flexible working is as popular as ever. These schemes are especially important in the tech industry, with 60% of professionals stating that flexible working options would be more attractive to them than a salary increase (PALife). Flexible working is also important to the younger generations, with 76% of millennials willing to take a pay cut to work in a flexible office environment (CNBC). Offering a flexible working scheme not only has multiple benefits for employees, but for employers too. Some advantages of allowing staff to work flexibly include reduced absenteeism, increased employee morale, and a reduced staff turnover (the balance careers).
However, flexible working isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. One of the biggest challenges to overcome in a flexible working environment is for employers to give their employees complete trust to use their time effectively whilst they’re out of office. Employees struggling to adapt to their new way of work may also cause issues, impacting their work performance. Finally, technology can bring problems within flexible working, as even a minor technical fault could make it difficult for employees to continue their duties from a remote location.
If you’ve weighed up the pros and cons and decided that a flexible working scheme sounds like something you want to offer, you might be wondering how to implement it. Here’s a few things to consider:
Introduce a trial- If you like the sound of flexible working but can’t quite see the difference it could make to your business, introduce a flexible working trial. Piloting the scheme for around three months should give you time to identify any potential issues with the policy before you implement it completely. During the trial period, be sure to collect data related to key factors like productivity and engagement as well as employee views so that once it ends, you have tangible data to inform your decision.
Establish a plan- Once you’ve decided that flexible working is for you, create a plan of how to implement it within your business. Define the roles and responsibilities of employees, create measurable goals to work towards and consider all of the practicalities. Once the formalities have been decided, circulated around the team and agreed on; you’re ready to go.
Communication is key- A key part of implementing a flexible working scheme is ensuring that communication is maintained across all levels of the business. Whether it’s taking part in regular calls, emails, or updating a shared diary, make sure that employees stay in contact and remain working collaboratively.
Train managers- One of the most difficult parts about launching a new HR initiative is ensuring it becomes part of day to day business. To do this, managers need to be aware of the challenges that a flexible workforce can bring and how to deal with them. As well as the challenges, make sure the managers know the benefits of flexible working and inspire them to encourage loyalty and productivity among staff.
Invest in the top tech- Ultimately, technology is one of the main contributors to flexible working. Mobile devices and cloud-based services allow staff to work remotely, so it’s worth investing in top quality tech to make the transition to flexible working smoother for everyone. Providing your employees with the best equipment to assist their flexi-working lives will make a huge difference on their efficiency and quality of work outside the office.
Make use of external tools- When your staff are working remotely, use resources to keep team collaboration high. Tools such as Zoom.us can be used to hold video meetings with up to 500 participants no matter where they are in the world. Asana is a useful resource that allows you to manage your team remotely by delegating tasks, tracking project progress, sharing documents and creating individual to-do lists. Another great tool to make use of is LastPass. With so many services and accounts, you’ll need to keep a track of lots of login details. LastPass keeps information stored securely in one place and can be accessed by team members working remotely to make their lives easier.
Review the scheme- Once you’ve successfully integrated flexible working into your business, don’t stop; carry out regular reviews of the initiative and compare your progress against your goals regularly so that you can make any necessary changes and keep your scheme running smoothly.